things to do after high school

Academy Xi Blog

Great things to do after graduating high school in 2022

By Academy Xi

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things to do after high school

Are you a high school graduate who’s wondering what to do next? If so, fear not! We’ve put together a list of ideas for your next big move, which will be exciting life experiences that could earn you some extra money, and maybe even kickstart a long-term career. 

Completing high school is a significant milestone in life. For some, the path ahead feels clearly defined. Many others have a few ideas about what they might like to pursue after finishing school, but nothing concrete as yet. Others have no idea at all, and while that might feel daunting – it’s okay to not know. The reality is, Australians have an average of 12 job changes in a lifetime, so there’s no pressure to have it all figured out immediately.

We’ve rounded up a few ideas of great things you could consider doing after graduating. Take a peek and see what you think.

what to do after high school

Take a gap year

Gaining in popularity is the concept of taking a gap year. Originally a rite of passage for young folk in the UK (a tradition that dates way back to the 13th century) taking a gap year is rapidly becoming more commonplace worldwide, with Australians embracing the idea wholeheartedly.

While there isn’t a set age or time of life that a gap year should be taken, it is most common to do so between finishing high school and commencing further studies and often involves travelling.

Many people who take a gap year get involved with volunteer programs abroad or teach English as a second language. You can also look into applying for further education opportunities and deferring the start date by a year to give yourself some structure.

Whichever way you approach it, a gap year can be an awesome opportunity to simply go exploring, take a break after finishing school and to see what is out there in the big, wide world. Travel restrictions are thankfully easing up post-pandemic, so get your passport sorted and start planning!

Gaining in popularity is the concept of taking a gap year. Originally a rite of passage for young folk in the UK (a tradition that dates way back to the 13th century) taking a gap year is rapidly becoming more commonplace worldwide, with Australians embracing the idea wholeheartedly.

While there isn’t a set age or time of life that a gap year should be taken, it is most common to do so between finishing high school and commencing further studies and often involves travelling.

Many people who take a gap year get involved with volunteer programs abroad or teach English as a second language. You can also look into applying for further education opportunities and deferring the start date by a year to give yourself some structure.

Whichever way you approach it, a gap year can be an awesome opportunity to simply go exploring, take a break after finishing school and to see what is out there in the big, wide world. Travel restrictions are thankfully easing up post-pandemic, so get your passport sorted and start planning!

Start a travel blog and travel while at it

fun things to do after high school

If taking a gap year appeals to you and you’re up for travelling, consider starting a travel blog and documenting your adventures on the road. This can be a great way to keep your friends and family in the loop with what you’re getting up to and also will serve as a record of your travels for you in the future.

Perhaps you’re keen to earn cash while you travel? You’ve probably heard about digital nomads, who travel the world and make money via their laptops from far flung destinations. Sponsored travel is a very enticing goal to work towards. If you start a travel blog and grow your website traffic, there’s no reason why you can’t join the ranks.

It can certainly help if you have some digital marketing skills up your sleeve if you would like to earn money while you travel from your blog. Earning money from your blog isn’t as simple as posting every day and does require persistence. It’s also important to note that travel blogging is a crowded marketplace and the quality varies widely.

The key to a successful travel blog? Find your unique take or angle on travel and write from that perspective. With so many travel blogs around, it’s important to not just do a general play-by-play account of each destination. Perhaps you’re really into a particular food, or you want to do as much travel as possible on foot, or you’re following your favourite band around the globe on tour. Whatever the angle, find it and run with it and you’ll stand out from the crowd, increasing your chances of earning some coin.

Study online short courses while you travel

what to do after graduating high school

Another option to consider is investigating short courses to study online. You don’t need to be travelling or taking a gap year to do this obviously, but online training does provide flexibility, so you can be travelling or working at the same time. As long as you have a reliable internet connection, it’s game on.

Unlike a university degree, short courses are exactly that, short. You can dip your toes into a new field to improve your entrepreneurial skills, swot up on tech skills or any other form of training, whatever industry or interest appeals to you. There are a wide range of options that run for 12 weeks online, part-time, and can provide a strong baseline for you to embark on further study if it feels like a good fit for you.

Academy Xi offers short courses to study online across business and marketing, tech and data and design, with options to do longer-term training to ensure you’re job-ready upon completion.

The Academy Xi Elevate courses are popular for those training while travelling, providing flexible part-time and self-paced options. Online short courses include:

Become a social media influencer

what to do after high school Australia

Embarking on a career as a social media influencer can be done on the road, or from the comfort of your own home.

What is an influencer exactly? When someone creates a following to their social media channels, usually a sizable crowd, who are likely to listen and act on the suggestions of that individual, they may be seen as a social media influencer. Travel is a popular category for social media influencers, along with other lifestyle topics such as health & beauty and fitness. 

Want to learn more about how to become an influencer? Check out How to become a successful social media influencer and make money from it.

If you want to earn a formal certification in Social Media Marketing, our Social Media Marketing: Elevate course allows you to develop a content strategy and the technical skills needed to to put it into motion, helping you make some serious cash out of your love for socials.  

The wrap-up

Finishing your high school education can be an exciting and fun time – it doesn’t need to be filled with ‘figuring out your future’. By taking a gap year, checking out short online courses or starting a travel blog while you’re on the road, you’ll open new doors for yourself, gain life experiences and who knows, maybe find something amazing to pursue that you hadn’t thought of before. 

Keen to explore your training options? Our experienced team is here to discuss your interests and ambitions to help you find the right course for you. Speak to a course advisor today and take the first steps in your online study journey.

Academy Xi Blog

How to kickstart a career in UX Design

By Academy Xi

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In an open letter to UX Design graduates, Academy Xi Designer in Residence Jacalin Ding gives practical tips and tricks on how to gain a foothold in one of Australia’s most exciting industries.

Dear UX Design graduates, 

Firstly, well done! You should be very proud of yourselves for going through such an extensive learning experience. The product world is brand new to you and everything you’ve learnt is about to be put into practice.

The UX Design industry is exciting and forever evolving. It can feel like a black hole of mystery. Where do you go from here? 

As you prepare yourself for a wild ride into the employment market, the future might seem daunting. To help you prepare for what’s to come, I’ve put together a beginner’s guide that includes some simple steps to follow as you look to make a fast start as a UX Designer.

Take some time to self-reflect

Before you rush off to LinkedIn and apply for every job you see, just hold your horses. Sit down, close your eyes, and really think about how you feel about your whole journey.

If you answer these questions, you’ll get a better feel for what type of role and environment suits you:

  • Are you drawn to a particular part of the design process? Maybe you most enjoyed strategy, research, or hands-on practice.
  • Reflect on how and when you do your best work. Is it through collaboration, or facilitation? 
  • What transferable skills do you offer? Never underestimate the power of your past experiences. Even if you haven’t worked in a creative field before, your transferable skills will be the cherry on the top of your newly-acquired design skills. These elements combined make you unique as a designer.
  • What product problems are you passionate about? Are there any companies out there whose work you admire? This can help narrow down the type of companies you’d like to work for.

Write all your answers down on paper and revise them frequently. Self-reflection is an important activity for any designer at any level.

Understand the battlefield

Now you’ve completed some self-reflection, it’s time to add a little extra flavour to your professional profile. You need to make you and your work really stand out.

There are tons of fresh UX bootcamp graduates constantly flowing into the employment market. What makes you special? 

Add extra feathers to your cap by:

  • Perfecting your soft skills: Communication, communication, communication. I can’t stress how important this is. Practise telling your story, both in writing and verbally.
  • Showcasing your UI skills: The portfolios that stand out are the ones that are well crafted with an understanding of UI design. UX Designers need to work with UI Designers, so showcase your understanding of UI and patterns. You need to demonstrate that you are not only a problem solver, but also a content designer.
  • Working with engineers: Go to hackathons, find opportunities to collaborate with engineers and learn the process they follow. Designers and engineers almost always work together in any product team. Learn how to make design compromises for feasibility, and how to package up your work for hand-off.

Don’t stop at case studies

Maybe take a little break after you’ve completed your bootcamp, but then get started with your first self-directed project. Remember, this is your first opportunity to drive on your own! It’s time to sharpen up all the tools you’ve learned. 

This time, you don’t have to go through every single step in the double diamond process. Instead, be strategic and rational about each decision you make. 

Designers who create their own projects are clearly passionate about what they do. Passion is the ingredient that sets you apart from the crowd. 

Here are a few tips for your first self-directed project: 

  • Tackle realistic, bite-sized projects.
  • Start getting to grips with industry-standard research tools. You could try using Maze, Dovetail and SUS score.
  • Hone your practical skills. Practise Figma auto layouts, create shortcuts, organise files and prepare documentation for engineers. There are plenty of YouTube videos that give you step-by-step tutorials for all of these skills.

Jazz up your LinkedIn

For those who have been spending their lives scrolling on TikTok and Instagram, it’s time to shift gears and focus on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the place where most professional opportunities live these days.

  1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is looking its best. List and explain your digital skill-sets, get recommendations from previous colleagues, and carefully check for spelling and grammatical errors.

  2. Follow businesses you’d like to work with, as well as their employees and recruiters. This will help you get a vibe on the company culture. Try to network slowly and avoid bluntly asking for jobs.

  3. Increase your visibility by posting insights and writing articles. The key is to share your thoughts, promote your work and get your name out there. It can seem intimidating at first, but don’t worry – just hit that publish button!

Build a stand-out portfolio

This is the most important part. It’s time to make sure your portfolio is sleek. Keep it simple and weave your personality into it (don’t neglect the ‘About Me’ page!). If you’re not an engineer, you can use easy-to-build platforms like Squarespace and Wix. Design your portfolio like you would a product: conceptualise, draft, write and edit before building it.

Truthfully, most of the graduate case studies I’ve seen are not even going to make it onto a shortlist. I’ll write another article about how to craft a decent case study in the coming weeks. For now, here’s a high-level guide:

  • Make sure you clearly define the problem and your measure for success (i.e. increase click rate by 5%). A problem well-defined is a problem half solved. Use success metrics as the north star to guide your testing.
  • Feature your finished mock-ups at the top. Give viewers a wow factor and a reason to carry on reading
  • Each case study should be scannable. Most people speed read, so avoid long paragraphs, highlight data points and use bullet points and visuals. Ask yourself, if someone is scrolling through the case study quickly, is the story captivating and easily digestible?
  • Back up your validation with both quantitative and qualitative data (i.e. 80% of users tested completed the task successfully, followed by a quote).
  • You don’t have to show every single step. You also don’t have to follow the double diamond method. Instead, create a story that highlights which insights informed your decision making. Remember to refer back to your goal, share any pitfalls you encountered and how you moved beyond them.

Seek opportunities everywhere

Before you secure a job offer, put yourself out there with internships and volunteer work. LinkedIn is not the only destination to make that happen.

Internships

  • Contact companies you’d like to be a part of and ask for intern opportunities. Do your research, get familiar with what they do and write them a sincere cover letter pitching yourself.
  • https://interns.design is a site where you can find current intern opportunities. However, be aware that many of these are based in the US.
  • Think grassroots and get creative. If a restaurant in your neighbourhood has a terrible website, offer to do a redesign. Perhaps have a mentor work alongside you so you can get advice when needed.

Volunteering

Approach charities you want to get involved with and make contact with their employees on LinkedIn.

You can also offer to help start-ups. The good thing about start-ups is that you get to work with stakeholders directly. You can find start-ups by searching Facebook groups. I recommend you approach start-ups with existing designers or a Product Manager in place, since the projects are more likely to be properly organised.

If you’re going to work for free, make sure it’s worth your time. Know exactly what you want to get out of volunteering from the get-go.

Be around like-minded people

As well as LinkedIn networking, try meeting other UX Designers in person. Nothing beats real face-to-face conversations with likeminded people. Find out if there’s a meet-up opportunity near you.

In Australia, there are heaps of networking opportunities:

Plus, you can get mentored by experienced design leaders via platforms like Adplist.org.

Anyway, that’s a wrap! I hope all these tips and tricks are useful to you as you start your job search. Keep in mind that it’s totally normal to hit roadblocks and face rejection. It’s all part of the journey to success. If you’ve got the passion, trust me, the opportunities will follow!

I wish you all the best, and look forward to seeing you and your work in the industry soon.

Jacalin Ding

——————

Jacalin Ding / Strategic Product Design Lead. Consultant, Mentor, Speaker and Designer in Residence at Academy Xi.

Connect with Jacalin on Linkedin.
Jacalin’s other channel links: https://linktr.ee/jacalin.

Academy Xi Blog

Graduate Catch Up: Leah Bayndrian

By Academy Xi

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 Student Profile

Leah Bayndrian

Course: UX Design Transform, Full-time 

Background: Investment Banking Administration

Current Role: UX Research Specialist

 

A year on from completing our UX Design Transform course, Leah Bayndrian shares her learning journey with us, and describes how the experience prepared her to hit the ground running as a UX Research Specialist with Oneflare.

 

What were you doing before Academy Xi, and why did you decide to give UX a go?

Before starting my UX course I had been working in London for an investment bank; mostly in the area of banking administration. I was involved with updating systems and streamlining processes to work with new banking regulations that were coming into effect in the UK.

 My role involved working with a team of 150 people, finding out how they used current systems, what frustrated them, and their goals and needs when it came to building new systems. The engineer I was working with to create this, suggested I look into UX, so when I flew back home to Sydney I began my research. I came across Academy Xi and signed up – kicking off a pretty exciting career change! 

 

How well prepared did you feel after graduating from Academy Xi to hit the ground running at work?

Academy Xi was able to prepare me for the world of design and all the new challenges I needed to take on when job hunting after my course. The design world is very new and different for someone who came from a non-design background, there was a lot I had to learn and understand in terms of how I needed to prepare for a design role. Everything is different, from the way you work, to how you speak and communicate with developers and stakeholders. There is a lot to learn and a very short space to grasp it all.

The Academy Xi UX Transform course gave me the ability to understand what I wanted out of a UX role, as well as all the base information with doors ready to open. The course helps you understand where your interests lie, as in what you like to do and where you want to grow and develop. 

Some people were drawn to the UI side of design whereas I was more taken with the research. I’m more involved in the early concept of design, deciding why and how we should tackle problems to build for a better experience. 

 

 

The course teaches you all the base skills that will equip you to complete UX projects. During the course you undertake real client projects which is a highly valuable experience. You work with the clients to get an understanding of what is expected from you as a UX Designer and understand how to complete a full design journey, delivering an outcome to your clients – which is what is expected from you as soon as you start your first role.

Xi equipped me with the skills to carry out the design thinking process with variable options to take and an understanding of how to conduct research through testing and iterating designs. They help you stand on your own two feet, with the ability to understand the pros and cons of different kinds of processes and tools, choosing where to implement how best to tackle a problem, enabling you to continually grow your skills and keep learning.

 

How did Academy Xi help you find and prepare for the role with Oneflare?

The Tribe at Academy Xi was able to help prepare me for the world of design and all the new challenges I needed to take on when job hunting after my course. During the course we were always told how to get the most out of it and to really put ourselves out there by going to meetups, networking and understanding what the day to day world of UX is really like.

Throughout my course, The Outcomes Team helped with many areas of interview and job preparation:

  • Resume writing: Translating past career experience into the context of my design skillset
  • Interview prep: we gained tips on how to prep for interviews and get our story across. We also played out mock interviews and practiced questions. Importantly, we learnt how to question our potential employers to gain an understanding of their UX maturity, and how they currently work with design teams
  • Creating a portfolio: we worked on creating a portfolio with case studies from our client projects which all employers wanted to look over.
  • Creating an online presence: They encouraged us to write blogs and be active on Linkedin
  • Networking: creating connections within the design world was also good advice, as the design community, while growing, is still relatively small, it’s good to build connections and be able to reach out for advice from mentors and other professionals.
 
Thanks Leah! If you are interested in a career transformation yourself, check out our range of courses here.
 

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